Matthew, Ash and Wally are Even. Emma-Jane Johnson photo.
Ask any Australian fan of hooky powerpop who they rate and the answer will almost inevitably include Even, the Melbourne institution that’s been a fixture on the Oz scene since forming in 1994. Fronted by singer-songwriter-guitarist, Ashley Naylor, with Matthew Cotter on drums and Wally Kempton (aka Wally Meanie) on bass and backing vocals, they have just released their eighth album, “Down The Shops”, and it's reviewed here.
“Down The Shops” is a beautifully presented, vinyl collection of covers Even has released down the years. Ever since working up a rocking version of Badfinger’s “No Matter What” in their early mid-‘90s days playing the pubs around Fitzroy and St Kilda, Even have usually had a cover or two on the go. And they weren’t adverse to working up a load of them; they did "Even Jukebox"performances every year at Melbourne’s Cherry Bar.
The first overseas signing for soon-to-be famous label Sub Pop, championed by Jello Biafra and Greg Shaw, and one of the few French bands to tour relentlessly around the USA, Les Thugs deserved to be more than a blip on the world’s music radar.
You could go broke collecting the back catalogue of Les Thugs. It’s all out of print and the rarest of it fetches biggish money on eBay. The band lasted from 1983-99 and bounced around on various labels. This album is their 10th and documents a show on their farewell tour of their homeland.
The sound of Les Thugs – named for the 12th Century Indian brotherhood of the ThuggeeThuggee who used to kill the rich for their money, not your standard bovver boys - is a few steps removed from their punk rock beginnings when they were formed, DIY-style, by brothers Eric and Christophe Sourice. It’s dense and intense, two guitars with enveloping harmonics and textured bass-lines.
There’s a term we’ve been debating at home recently: Disassociative. Apparently it describes a state of existence where consciousness is disassociated from physical and ordinary psychological presence.
Some drugs are disassociatives; not sure what the others are (associatives?). According to a friend, if you have a series of late nights, coupled with a day job, you can become disassociated. I thought that was just being over tired, but never let critical assessment get in the way of a specious pseudo-medical term.
I’d describe Melbourne instrumental-psych-garage band BBQ Haque as transcendental; maybe they’re disassociative. Either way, you can get lost in BBQ Haque. But you’re not really lost, you’re just on a different plane. It’s a plane with a dusty spaghetti western edge ("Chilangos de los Chios’" and mesmerising beats and psychedelic chants. You’re dragged in, wide-eyed, devoted to the cause, if only you knew what it all meant.
Eternal punk rock outsider Sonny Vincent is re-emerging after years off to manage the fall-out of a family tragedy with a new group, The Limit, comprising members of the Stooges, Pentagram and infamous Portugese metal band Dawnrider, Their album "Caveman Logic",comprising Vincent-penned songs,will be released via Finnish labelSvart Records on April 9 and can be pre-ordeered here.
For the unitiated, Sonny Vincent is a proflific solo artist and played with culy CBGB and Max's Kansas City band Testors as well as people like Scott and Ron Asheton, Bobby Stinson, Spencer P Jones and Mo Tucker. Vincent is joined by Pentagram singer Bobby Liebling, singer and main-man of Pentagram, Jimmy Recca (the Stooges, and New Order), guitaristHugo Conim on Guitar and João Pedro Ventura on dums
Long term denizens of this scurvy establishment will need no introduction to the names Captain Sensible (nee Ray Burns) and Paul Gray. If there was such a thing as punk rock royalty (and I’m against it on general principle), these guys would at least be Grand Dukes or Princes or some such.
For those of you who are slumming it, Captain Sensible is the more fluorescent face of The Damned. His beret and toilet mat jumper has besmirched the covers of a good many picture covers of hit singles, including a surprise run as a solo star.
Paul Gray came to the world’s attention with fellow graduates of the class of ’76 Eddie and the HotRods. Paul has also had three runs as bass player in the Damned and the kind of resume that would have you blushing with jealousy. He played on Johnny Thunders’ “So Alone” so don’t you go comparing resumes. He’s Paul Gray and you’re not.
One of our favourite Aussie rock and roll cartoonists, Rick Chesshire, is a man of many talents - as this filmclip for "Right On" by Melbourne three-piece The Dive Bombs shows.The Dive Bombs are a new-ish band whose members have a solid pedigree and their releases so far have all been digital and are on Bandcamp. Check them out on Facebook and hit up Rick here for your cartooning, artwork and filmclip needs.
Oh, my stars and garters! Richard Duguay is amazing! I don't get around much, anymore, ya know, I'd seen some pictures of the dude online here and there where he looked like a distant relative of Andy McCoy and Willie Deville, but I'd never heard his music until very recently and I'm a diehard fan, already.
An ex-member of Canadian band Personality Crisis and now based in Los Angeles, Duguay makes exactly the kinda music my friends and I loved growing up, when I worked at a hick record store in the middle of a midwestern cornfield and our vintage turntables and ghetto blasters were always spinnin' Dogs D'Amour, the NY Dolls, Hanoi Rocks, Bowie, Iggy, Cooper, ancient Aerosmith, all that kinda stuff.
There’s no need to explain what a slightly weird year 2020 was. Sadly and for my back pocket’s sake, Phase 4 Records had to close for most of Autumn which meant I wasn’t as often held captive by some stinky guy banging on about the greatness of some rockist act they read about in "The Wire" at the top of their voice scaring our innocent customers away while I desperately needed to go to the toilet.
Our record label LCMR managed to squeeze out only three 7” EPs for the year – one by a hopelessly obscure Toowoomba punk group, Brian, and two by Xiro, the Brisbane band of the early post-punk era who should’ve gone on to have a great international career but decided not to for the sake of art; or something.
It was a great pleasure putting them all together for those who were all too familiar and the ones who were brave enough to try some music that was completely unknown to them.